Agence Française de Développement announces €2 million grant to increase implementation of responsible finance practices in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa

New initiative will promote social performance, client protection, and capacity building throughout the regions

Washington, D.C., November 13, 2014 - Bringing together the efforts of the Social Performance Task Force and the Smart Campaign, Agence Française de Développement(AFD), the French Development Agency, announced grant funding to support a responsible finance initiative that will build a foundation in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa; implement capacity building in the regions; and conduct needed research around client protection, transparent pricing, and social performance standards. This initiative will lay the groundwork for locally led responsible finance and unify local and international stakeholders. Successful implementation of these activities with AFD will help ensure that the industry has the well-being of its clients as its most important goal.

 Working with the knowledge and resource base of the Social Performance Task Force and the Smart Campaign, and with the experience of AFD in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa, the project will respond to the needs, gaps and readiness of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and associations (MFAs) to understand, accept, and implement organizational changes that will benefit clients. Specific activities will focus on:

  • Capacity building and needs assessments through trainings
  • Co-funding support for MFI activities including social performance and client protection assessments, institutional upgrades to address gaps, Social Ratings and Client Protection Certifications
  • Research to help adapt client protection and social performance standards to digital financial services; research to better understand over-indebtedness within key microfinance markets


About The Agence Française de Développement

The Agence Française de Développement (AFD, or French Development Agency) is a public development finance institution that has been working to fight poverty and foster economic growth in developing countries and the French Overseas Provinces for seventy years. A specialized financial institution, AFD finances sustainable development projects carried out by government, local authorities, public companies, and the private sector on five continents—with priority given to Africa, which receives two-thirds of AFD commitments, and the French Overseas Territories. These projects focus on urban development and infrastructure, rural development, industry, financial systems, education and health.


About the Social Performance Task Force

The Social Performance Task Force (SPTF) consists of more than 1,500 members from all over the world and every microfinance stakeholder group: practitioners; donors and investors; global, regional, and national associations; technical assistance providers; rating agencies; researchers; and others. SPTF engages with stakeholders to develop, disseminate, and promote standards and good practices for social performance management and reporting. The vision of SPTF is that social performance management (SPM) is standard business practice and considered fundamental to achieving the social promise of microfinance. In June 2012, the SPTF released the comprehensive Universal Standards for Social Performance Management (USSPM), a set of management standards and practices that apply to all microfinance institutions pursuing a double bottom line and that include the client protection standards.


About the Smart Campaign

The Smart Campaign works around the world to provide MFIs with the tools and resources they need to deliver transparent, respectful, and prudent financial services to all clients. The Campaign works at multiple levels: raising awareness and commitment, shaping norms and standards, creating and mobilizing resources to assist in implementation, and, most recently, developing means to certify good performance of financial institutions. Industry uptake has been overwhelmingly positive: since the Smart Campaign launched in late 2009, it has garnered over 4,000 endorsers from 139 countries, including over 1,200 MFIs who together reach over 60 million clients. As of October 2014, 24 MFIs have achieved Client Protection Certification, reaching 8.7 million clients.


Media contacts:
Amelia Greenberg
Deputy Director, Social Performance Task Force


Alexandra Rizzi:
Deputy Director, Smart Campaign
Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion